Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik on Monday slammed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech in India-held Kashmir (IHK) a day ago, in which the premier asked Kashmiri youth to choose "tourism over terrorism".
"The statement of the Indian prime minister, that Kashmiris should choose between terrorism and tourism, and that youth who are striving for freedom are misguided, is absurd," the JKLF leader said in response to Modi's statements.
The Indian PM had visited IHK on Sunday to inaugurate an 11-kilometre-long highway tunnel worth 37.2 billion Indian rupees.
Speaking at the event, Modi had said, "While on the one hand youth in Kashmir were busy pelting stones, on the other some youth were breaking stones to carve out this tunnel," referring to unrest in the state that followed a security force raid that killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last July.
"This bloody game could not do any good to anyone during the last forty years," Modi said.
Responding to Modi's speech, Yasin Malik said that roads and tunnels cannot make a nation change its course along the struggle for freedom.
"People who sided with the British during the Indian freedom struggle can never understand the ethos of a freedom struggle and the psyche of freedom lovers," the Kashmir Media Service reported.
"It was the British who developed the Indian railway system and irrigation canals that are still benefiting the whole of South Asia and if the standards of Modi Ji were to be applied, then the British should never have left India, and neither should Gandhi, Nehru, Subash Chander Bose, Baghat Singh and Moulana Azad have strived for the freedom of India," Malik said.
"Our reply to Modi Ji is the same that was given by Gandhi to a British envoy who had posed a similar question to him, asking how can a poor Indian survive independently, to which Gandhi had replied that he would prefer a non-competent poor independent rule over a competent and wealthy forcibly controlled nation," the Kashmiri leader said.